Friday, January 17, 2014

White Out

After a pleasant start to the day, based on a balmy early morning 31 degrees when I walked SiSi, the temperature has been dropping and the wind's picked up. Bob Dylan's song, Girl From The North Country, has a line that goes: "To keep her from the howlin’ winds." Every time I looked out the window this morning, that line played in my ear. Western Minnesota has several roads closed due to blizzard conditions and whiteouts caused by winds around 50 mph. When I've traveled in the western parts of the state, I've noticed flashing-light barriers with road-closed signage. I'm not sure which counties or roads have "earned" those barriers and I don't recall ever seeing any in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area. MnDOT's on-line Design Manual notes [10-5.04]:

"Emergency Road Closing Gates
 Emergency road closing gates are being employed in some areas of the State to be used in the event of major winter storms or natural disasters such as floods and tornados. MnDOT has not established standards for these devices. Contact the Office of Maintenance for guidelines on emergency road closings and for information on areas using emergency road closing gates."

I'm not sure whether I feel deprived that we don't have these barriers or grateful that the powers that be think we don't need them, even on the highways to Duluth.

deer tracks in the snow
deer tracks in the snow        © harrington

Last night, while letting SiSi out to take care of business, we spooked a doe crossing the yard, possibly the same one that made some of the tracks in the photo. The doe must have been within ten or fifteen feet or so of the back of the house. When we opened the walk-out door to the screen patio, the doe bounded down our slope and up another to stand by the pear tree and decide what was going on. I was truly grateful that SiSi didn't decide she needed to go through the screen to play with a new friend.

SiSi the rescue lab
SiSi the rescue lab                 © harrington

I don't know that Emerson spent time on the Iron Range or the prairie, but he understands snow storms (New England gets to enjoy Winter too).

The Snow-Storm

By Ralph Waldo Emerson 
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow. 

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Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Be kind to each other.